To Read or Not to Read – What Kind of Question is That?!?


It’s hard to believe January has arrived and with it a blank slate of fresh starts and new beginnings. I love restarting homeschooling with a new schedule and a renewed sense of direction. And making goals for a new year is always exciting.

January is also a good time for reflecting on the past year, and I am excited to say that I accomplished my reading goals for the year! I made some changes to my reading plan as I went as it became evident that I had chosen some books that weren’t what I wanted or needed to read. But before the last day of each month, I had finished whatever book I had set out to read. And because of what I had chosen, I went to see a live showing of Les Misérables and met author Doris Kearns Goodwin! It was an exciting year-much of which was “spent” in the 1800s with my good friend Abe Lincoln. (I have a secret crush on old Abe, but that story is for another time.)

While I was spending time in the French Revolution or amongst the streets of Washington or learning a new thought regarding parenting, however, some other areas of my life became very, well, um, unpolished. My house began collecting more dust than I like, and my blog has needed a good old dose of elbow grease as well. I’m going to try to work a little more on keeping other areas of my life up to date as I read this year. But before all these things, my kiddos have to have their time, so my house and blog may still get a little dusty here and there.

I want to share with you the books I read this year and those I plan to read this year, and I really want to encourage you to make a similar list. I wish I had started sooner! I jotted down some ideas to help you make and keep a plan. Hopefully you will enjoy revisiting the world of words as much as I have!

Some Tips for Making Reading Goals…

  1. Choose a plan that is doable for you. If you haven’t read in a while or have minimal amounts of time, maybe you can plan to read a book every couple of months. Most of us have a crazy lot of things going on in our world, but my guess is a little less time spent on social media and watching television will give you a good amount of time to read a chapter or two each night. But DO plan to read, and make sure you accomplish your goal!
  2. Select books that make you want to read. Choose books that are helpful in your stage of life, are from an exciting time period, or are popular. You can get good book suggestions from a librarian, friends, or other people’s book lists. (Like mine below!) Another way I like to find books to read is to look up a book I really liked on Amazon and check out what other people purchased with that book.
  3. Utilize your own bookshelves and your local library. This last year, I listed a few books I owned and had never finished (or even started!) and a few I wanted to get at my library. Excepting a couple of e-books I purchased to read on my phone, I didn’t spend any money reading the books on my list this year. Our library has interlibrary loan options that allow me to request books that they don’t carry – like the book I checked out on chickens when I wanted to start a coop in my backyard. (This story is also for another time!)
  4. Be flexible. If you start reading a book that is just not for you, give yourself permission to change things up. But keep in mind that most books are hard to get into for a few chapters.
  5. Keep things varied and stretch yourself a little. Read a variety of types of books – old and new, nonfiction and fiction, helpful books and entertaining books. I love to throw in some biographies and classics. They are a lot of fun to read, and you really feel cultured when you’re done. (Cultured is a feeling most mommas don’t experience. Well, unless you count cultured milk that an infant projects down your shoulder!)
  6. Get excited about accomplishing your goals. Maybe you reward yourself with tickets to see a play, the purchase of a new book, or a night out with coffee and your next book. Make it fun and exciting to revisit the world of reading.
  7. Find someone who will keep you accountable. I knew I was going to have to post on this blog if I didn’t finish a book, and that was very motivating for me. I also had friends who asked me how my reading was going, and my husband did his own reading along with me. It’s good to have people around you check in with you on your goals –and this is true for any goals you set.

Okay, now for the fun… Here are my booklists, past and future. This year, I wanted to read more than 13 books, but I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with everything if I picked two a month. So my plan for 2014 is to read three books every two months. This way, I can get started on a book if I finish one early one month and finish it up along with another book the next.

Books I Read in 2013 – about 5,000 pages!
JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson
April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay
MayThe Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
JuneKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
July What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings – and Life by Laura Vandekam
August Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
SeptemberTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
October Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
November Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason
DecemberThe Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight by Heidi St. John
BonusHints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumball

Books I Plan to Read in 2014
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children by Sally Clarkson
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series Vol. 2: Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Blood Brothers: The Dramatic Story of a Palestinian Christian Working for Peace in Israel by Elias Chacour
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants by Douglas Wilson
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea
The Bully Pulpit: Theordore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noël Piper
Bonus Books to Read with My Hubby
Hints on Child Training by H. C. Trumbull (This is a repeat from last year!)
The Duties of Parents by J. C. Ryle

I would love to hear from you about what books you plan to read. Happy Reading in 2014!


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